Larsson and Child winners in a tough week for the trade
23.03.10 | Philip Stone

Book sales fell 14.3% week-on-week as gift-purchases dried up post Mother’s Day.

In total, £26.1m was spent at UK book retailers during the seven days to 20th March, according to Nielsen BookScan Total Consumer Market data, down 12.7% on the same week last year due to a Mother’s Day clash—Mothering Sunday fell on 22nd May last year.

Lee Child’s 61 Hours (Bantam Press), sold 26,247 copies in just three days and tops this week’s Official UK Top 50—but only by virtue of the fact that the 33,862 sales clocked up by Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Quercus) were split between its original mass-market edition (17,376 copies sold last week) and the new film tie-in version (16,486).

Child’s 14th Jack Reacher thriller went head-to-head with Ian McEwan’s new darkly-comic climate change novel, Solar (Cape), at UK bookshops, the latter having to settle for 2nd position in the Original Fiction charts, and 15th position overall, with a 14,176 sale—McEwan’s strongest hardback weekly sale in more than eight years. Interestingly, if the novel had sold that many copies in any other week in 2010 thus far, it would have scored a number one.

Penny Vincenzi’s The Best of Times (Headline) was the second bestselling book of the week, and takes top spot in the Mass Market Fiction chart ahead of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall (Fourth Estate). Headline have certainly found a winning formula with Vincenzi, given her previous two titles both made it to the summit of the mass-market fiction chart, although The Best of Times’ 23,815 sale was largely due to half-price “book of the week” positions at both Waterstone’s and W H Smith.

Darcey Busell and Anna Wilson’s Magic Ballerina/Kitten Chaos flip-book remains the bestselling World Book Day tome, while Andy McNab’s Last Night Another Soldier (Corgi) was the “Quick Read” bestseller. It sold 1,456 copies last week, just 18 copies more than the second most popular £1.99 title, Peter James’ The Perfect Murder (Pan).

Numerous mum-friendly hardback non-fiction titles suffered big week-on-week sales declines, not least the Hairy Bikers’ Mums Know Best (Weidenfeld), sales of which fell 77% to 5,100 copies sold. Nonetheless, it was comfortably the bestselling hardback non-fiction title of the week in an incredibly dry sector.

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